Many people in Indonesia, especially human rights activists, are concerned about a new revised version of the country’s criminal code (RKUHP) that politicians are still debating but could potentially make homosexuality (as well as almost all forms of sex outside of marriage) illegal.
But given Indonesia’s renewed moral panic over LGBT rights that have led to overwhelmingly homophobic attitudes among the general public (with nearly 90% who knew the term LGBT calling the minority group a “threat” in a recent survey), there are others who think the national government isn’t moving fast enough against the “threat” of LGBT, leading several local governments to create anti-LGBT task forces in their own regions.
The latest city to join that trend is Depok, a satellite city just south of Jakarta that is home to some 1.87 million people. Today, Depok Deputy Mayor Muhammad Idris announced his administration was forming a special team, consisting of social service workers, police and apparently civil-society groups (ormas) to “anticipate the spread of LGBT” among young people.
“We have created an integrated team to handle LGBT, we will collaborate with police and mass organizations to coach LGBT,” Idris said today as quoted by Kompas.
Idris made clear that the reason for the task force’s creation was not because being LGBT is illegal (it’s not, yet) but because of the threat to religious morality.
“Religion has agreed that LGBT acts are forbidden, so legally we will overcome this problem so that it will not spread,” he said.
In addition to government officials, Idris said that 200 members of various community organizations as well as religious leaders from villages throughout Depok would be part of the anti-LGBT effort.
The moral panic over LGBT individuals has been running especially high in Depok after two men were arrested last month for allegedly producing pornographic videos in a local gym.
RKUHP is still under discussion in the House of Representatives, but reports suggest that all political parties have agreed to include articles outlawing homosexual acts in the new criminal code, with debate now focusing mainly on the specifics of how the law is implemented.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!